MCRC Director’s Update – May 2022

Professor Robert Bristow in his office in the OCRB



I hope that everyone has had an enjoyable and productive month. This May at the MCRC, we are acknowledging the results of REF have shone a spotlight on our research impact, the outputs from an MCRC Town Hall from 2018 have outlined the case for banning indoor tanning beds, and finally, we held our first in an annual showcase for PhD and Early Career Researchers from the MCRC and DCS.


REF 2021 results


I’ll start off with huge congratulations to The University of Manchester, one of the MCRC’s founding partners, which has once again demonstrated it is one of the leading universities for research impact. Over 93% of its research submissions were evaluated as being world leading or internationally excellent, leading or world class – the highest categories and serves as a reminder that The University of Manchester is a research powerhouse.


The results for cancer research impact are equally encouraging. All eight of the submissions made to Clinical Medicine, Physics, and Biological Science were also rated as internationally excellent or world leading with the following case studies submitted:


  • Radiotherapy research changes standard clinical practice and improves survival for patients with small-cell lung cancer
    Key researchers: Corinne Faivre-Finn, Fiona Blackhall, Paul Lorigan
  • New targeted therapies in non-small cell lung cancer improve patient outcomes
    Key researchers: Fiona Blackhall, Malcolm Ranson
  • Improving survival and reducing treatment damage in Hodgkin lymphoma
    Key researchers: John Radford, Tim Illidge
  • Manchester’s Lung Health Checks: community-based screening boosts early lung cancer detection and leads to national screening pilots
    Key researchers: Philip Crosbie, Richard Booton
  • Access to more effective therapies in Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
    Key researchers: Tim Illidge, John Radford, Jamie Honeychurch
  • Commercial development and patient benefit of adoptive cell therapy (ACT) for cancer
    Key researchers: Fiona Thistlethwaite, Robert Hawkins, Peter Stern, David Gilham
  • Improving treatment and prevention of cervical cancer in Kenya
    Key researchers: Ian Hampson, Lynne Hampson
  • Establishing the UK’s first high-energy proton beam therapy service at The Christie Hospital Manchester and University College London Hospital
    Key researchers: Hywel Owen, Robert Appleby, Ranald Mackay, Karen Kirkby, Roger Barlow

All of the case studies spotlighted by the University can be found on their research impacts page and look out for more detailed insights over the coming months.

With our new vision of delivering Cancer Precision for All by harnessing inclusive translational science and clinical excellence, my aim is for the Manchester Centre to be a core pillar in helping to drive the impactful new scientific discoveries directly into the clinic and deliver meaningful change directly to patients.

Prof. Rob Bristow

Director, Manchester Cancer Research Centre

The case for banning sunbeds


Should there be an outright ban on indoor tanning beds? That was the question posed in 2018, following a Melanoma Town Hall organised by the MCRC that gathered healthcare professionals, researchers and patients together to devise a high risk, high impact research project. Our aim was to set a hypothetical media  headline and work to make it a reality.


This month I’m delighted to see that following a collaboration between the Cancer Research UK Manchester institute, QIMR Berghofer in Melbourne Australia and The University of Manchester, this has become a reality, with their recent publication in the British Journal of Dermatology outlining the health economic and health benefits of an outright ban on indoor tanning beds.


My congratulations to the entire team: Martin Eden, Louisa Gordon, Katherine Payne, Adele Green, Paul Lorigan and Richard Marais on their project that truly emphasises the Team Science ethos we strive for.  I’ve bene delighted to see that this news has been picked up across various news outlets, starting the debate on the use of indoor tanning facilities:


BBC – Scientists: ‘A ban on sunbeds could save lives from skin cancer’

Guardian – Ban on solariums in England would save hundreds of lives from skin cancer, study finds


MCRC-DCS Showcase


Following two years of virtual events, I was delighted that we could hold the first new annual research showcase for MCRC-DCS PhD researchers. The organising committee did a fantastic job in arranging the event, with 16 speakers and 23 posters presented, two national keynote speakers and a careers panel.


Our keynote speakers provided some insightful spotlights on their research journeys, beginning with Professor Philip Quirke (University of Leeds) who provided fantastic reflections and advise to early career researchers based on his career and home life experiences and the power of molecular pathology . This was followed on Day two with Professor Nicola Curtin (Newcastle University) who outlined her research journey investigating PARP inhibitors which now are an important addition in the clinic to combat DNA repair-defective breast, ovarian and prostate cancers.


Well done to all of the researchers who presented research through both talks and posters across the two days, as well as the excellent chairing done by the organising committee. Special congratulations goes out to our prize winners:

  • Jennifer Davies-Oliveira (First place oral presenter prize)
  • Danielle Love (highly commended oral presenter prize)
  • Rhys Owens (First Place poster prize)
  • Jim Zhong (highly commended poster prize)
Prize winners at the 2022 MCRC-DCS Showcase, left to right Danielle Love (2nd place oral presenter), Rhys Owens (First place poster prize), Jennifer Davies-Oliveira (First place oral presenter)

Prize winners at the MCRC-DCS Research Showcase. Left to right - Danielle Love, Rhys Owens. and Jennifer Davies-Oliveira.

Delegation from CRUK that joined us on 18th May 2022

The delegation from Cancer Research UK including COO Angela Morrison who joined us on the 18th May 2022 to tour the Paterson Research Building.

Other developments across the MCRC


  • Huge congratulations to Professor Tim Illidge who has been elected as a Fellow to the Academy of Medical Sciences. This fellowship celebrates individuals who have contributed to health science and generated new ideas, with the academy specifically recognising Tim’s incredible work across lymphoma and radiotherapy related research.
  • We welcomed Angela Morrison, COO of Cancer Research UK and a delegation of CRUK staff to Manchester so they could tour the Paterson Research Building so they can see and hear first-hand about some of the exciting research prospects the new building will enable
  • The Paterson building work is still on progress, with work continuing to the interior rooms, including fitting out the laboratories and meeting spaces. The building is still on track to complete by the end of this year.
  • And finally, congratulations to David Wedge who achieved a Highly Commended award at the University’s Making a Difference Awards for his work on Reducing inequalities in cancer tumour genetic screening.


I hope everyone has an enjoyable June and I look forward to updating you again at the end of the month.




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The Case for Banning Sunbeds

Explore our Impact Case Study examining the journey from Town Hall to publication for the health economic framework setting out the case for banning indoor sunbeds.